ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A big change on the way for the cigarette market in New York State. Starting on September 1, the tax rate on cigarettes will increase by $1 per pack.
A noticeable change, that Trevor Summerfield with the American Lung Association says is a long time coming.
“We have not raised the tax in New York State in over a decade,” Summerfield said. He added that the impact this will have is life changing.
“We know that by this tax increase we are going to decrease the amount of smokers in New York State by thousands, preventing kids from picking up in the first place and of course we’re looking out for lung health,” Summerfield said. “We know that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of cancer in New York State because it leads to lung cancer.”
Despite enthusiasm by some, others like Kent Sopris with the New York Association of Convenience Stores say the price hike will only hurt local tax paying retailers and send consumers somewhere cheaper.
“The state and the proponents of this tax increase, and things like a flavor ban, a menthol ban,
what they don’t understand is that you’re just driving folks into a marketplace that can’t be
regulated or controlled,” Sopris said.
Sopris adds that he believes this tax will not stop people from smoking. Instead, he says the only people it will hurt are those who sell the product.
“Folks are adults if they want to purchase products like tobacco, they should be free to do so. All
my stores offer is a regulated, legal product, that we pay our taxes on,” Sopris said.
Meanwhile, Summerfield says the concern is not just about individual cigarette smokers, but
also those who inhale their secondhand smoke such as family members, children, or neighbors.
“I myself am a former pack a day smoker for about ten years. I quit largely due to the cost,
moving back here to New York, it is expensive. I have to tell anybody that is willing to listen. It
was the best decision I have made in my life,” Summerfield said.
The Hochul administration is hoping raising the cigarette tax would prevent more youth from
taking up the habit. For resources on how you can receive help, if you are trying to quit smoking, visit lung.org or 1-866-NYQUITS